Monday, October 15, 2012

Goa - where east meets with west: Part II - Sateri Mahalasa Narayani Temple, Panaji, Fort Aguada, Sinquerim, Calangute, Santa Monica and Mandovi

It was a cool Sunday morning. As we have to be on board by 9.00am there was no option other than to wake up early. After having breakfast, we started our epic North Goa expedition.

By 9.00 am engine roared in to action and we were finally on the road. Our first stop was GTDC Colva residency, to pick up people waiting there to join us.

Sateri Mahalasa Narayani Temple

After passing through the middle of lush green paddy fields and some non-inhibited areas we finally reached Mahalasa temple. Mahalasa is considered as the Mohini avatar of Vishnu, because of this she is also referred as Mahalasa Narayani. A new temple for Devi was under construction; we walked towards the sanctum, after taking one parikrama and having prasad, moved back to our bus.

Verna Industrial Area
Sateri Mahalasa Narayani Temple

Verna is very much close to Mahalasa temple. I like the way GTDC selected the places, it’s not limited to the beaches; but includes temples, churches, city, folk dances, cultural events, etc. However, big disappointment with the tour is - it doesn't cover Goa state museum, naval aviation museum or any shipbuilding yards. Goa is more than just beaches, it has some industries - series ones like ship building, ports, mining etc.

Abyss marine fish aquarium

Aquariums are generally not my favourite ones. I don't like the concept of trapping something at a place, or depriving someone of its basic rights, just because somebody else wants to see them. However, joining other travel mates we three bought one ticket each and went in. The building was under construction, however fishes were there and guides were prepared to welcome us.

Cruising through River Mandovi.
One lady guide showed and explained us about fishes, Red Oscar, Pirana, Silver lady, Lucky fish, Tiger shark, Angel fish, Gaurami fish and many others whose names I am not able to recall. One interesting experience was, when the guide took one 'Conch Shell' from water and put it close to my ears - a continuous, slow, study and exhilarating sound was coming out of it. After moving back and forth through the aquarium for some time we finally approached the exit door.

Panaji (Panjim)

Capital cities used to evoke a different feeling in my mind. It's from here both executive and administrative machinery is taking decisions which will affect the entire population of the state. After crossing Zuvari Bridge and spending some more time, we reached Panaji (aka Panjim). On the side of Mondovi, close to the bridge, nine pillars of Panjim welcomed us.

Agoda Fort - Light house and Tank.
Panaji (means 'Land that never floods'), capital and third largest city in Goa, lies on the left banks of River Mondovi. For reaching Fort Aguada, we have to cross the bridge. Within couple of kilometres from the bridge Mondovi will embrace the vast water body of Arabian Sea. After crossing the sea, and moving for some time through a local route, we entered Fort Aguada road.

Aguada (Watering place in Portuguese) Fort

Even though, we saw little traffic in Fort Aguada road the entrance of the fort was bubbling with tourists. After crossing the gate we reach the canal which surrounds the land side of the fort. Earlier these canals were filled with crocodiles for the safety of the fort.

This sixteenth century fort, constructed by Portuguese in 1612AD, was used to store drinking water for ships passing through the area. It comprises a lower fort with bastions all around and an upper fort (consists of Moat, underground water storage chamber, light house, gun powder room and Bastions).  Massive underground tank has the capability to store 23 lakh 76 thousands litres of water. Currently this is not in use.

Fort Agoda and Lighthouse - Another view
From fort's inner courtyard, with the help of sunlight you can see the tank through the grills. Next to the tank there is an old light house (earlier it used to emit light once in seven minutes, in 1864 it was updated to emit light creating eclipse in every 30 seconds but later in 1976 it was abandoned), according to guide, this is the first light house in Asia. From fort walls, across the water body of Arabian Sea, you can see Governors house and Dona paula bay.

Apart from this tank, walls, light house and a distant view of Dauna Paulo bay there is nothing much to see here.

Sinquerim Beach

After 2004 Tsunami, this was no longer a beach. However, a lot of people are coming here to see this Tsunami affected beach. A part of Aguada Fort is located here. A rounded corner pillar, along with staircase to reach the top. Sea waves are relentlessly hitting the bottom of this pillar on one side, sometimes it even raise and embrace people standing on the top.

View from Fort Agoda
It was a nice experience to simply sit there and watch the waves. But, we have to reach GTDC Calangute annex for lunch. So, good bye Aguada!!! By the way Taj Holiday Village and Aguada Hermitage are located here.

Calangute Beach (largest in north Goa, peak season - Christmas, New Year, summer in May)

After having lunch, we walked towards Calangute beach, located close to annex. Calangute beach is considered as one of the best beaches in Goa, filled with small gravel and cool waves, this lengthy beach attracts young, old, couples, kids alike. We spend a lot of time here, sometimes just standing on the shores; sometimes watching others; sometimes experiencing the gravels getting removed from the bottom of legs along with the arrival of each wave.

Many are lying in the water to enjoy the waves and many others are also there because of their inability to wake up - thanks to drinks!!!

By four in the evening we told good bye to Calangute and headed back to Panjim.

Santa Monica

Dauna Paulo Bay
Once more we crossed Mondovi River and reached Santa Monica Jetty. Our next plan was a river cruise in a passenger ship called 'Santa Monica'. Ship started her cruise around six in the evening. There was a small raised platform in the deck, where local dance group used to perform their items, audience can sit in the chairs arranged in front of it.

I selected the first one in the first row. Cultural program started with the dance of kids from audience. Four came, one went back as fast as he came in, and another one too left the stage soon. However, remaining two (one boy and one girl) performed well for some time. Next was their items, in between they invited couples from audience for dancing. To my surprise many did very well.

Within a short period of time, local dance group performed a wide number of dance items, including Goa's best known folk dances - dekhni and fugdi.

As the ship moved forward, I left the chair and walked towards the front end. This place is very close to Mondovi Estuary; hence the river is very much wide here. Our ship slowly sailed past 'beautiful Adil Shah Palace that was once the first building in Panjim City. This was the summer palace of the Sultan which was then used by the Viceroy of Portugal and finally by the government of Goa as its Secretariat. Now that a new Secretariat is in use on Porvorim Hill across the river Mondovi, the Adil Shah Palace will be turned into a cultural centre with art galleries and concert halls, etc'.

During this journey we saw a number of ships anchored in the river - as guide explained in the morning these are probably the floating casinos. An answer for how easily you can become a millionaire (if you started as a billionaire). After taking a U turn we came back to Santa Monica Jetty around 7.10pm.

River cruise will cost you 150 INR per head.

Back to Margao

River cruise was the last item in Sunday's schedule. From Santa Monica, we retraced our path and went straight to our room - second night in Goa.


1. Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC)
2. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)

Santa Monica

One of the ship floating in the river

Moving through River Mandovi

No comments:

Post a Comment